National Speaker recognizes work of "Unique" Colorado Judicial Institute at Awards Dinner
The Colorado Judicial Institute hosted the 6th Annual Judicial Excellence for Colorado Dinner Tuesday, November 18th. The dinner affords CJI the opportunity to recognize outstanding members of our judiciary, celebrate our state system of judicial selection and raise needed funds for the Judicial Education Fund.
Over 585 judges, lawyers and community members attended the event and were treated to remarks by keynote speaker, Bert Brandenburg, Executive Director of Justice at Stake, based in Washington DC. Brandenberg congratulated CJI for “being a unique organization conducting important work” that guarantees that Colorado has the best possible judicial system.
In remarks entitled, “The Growing Challenge of Political Pressure on the Courts”, Brandenburg outlined some troublesome trends across the country, including “record breaking expenditures by third parties aimed at influencing judicial races, unjustified personal attacks on judges who make controversial decisions, numerous challenges to long established merit selection systems, and the challenge to public confidence in courts due to recusal scandals and outrageous campaign ad attacks”. Justice at State is a non-partisan organization working to keep our courts fair and impartial. Justice at Stake partners educate the public and work for reforms to keep politics and special interests out of the courtroom—so judges can do their jobs protecting our Constitution, our rights, and the rule of law. Acknowledging the enthusiastic audience, Brandenburg stated that while he was accustomed to speaking before judges, he was not “used to being in a room where the crowd whooped for judges”. He encouraged CJI and the individuals in attendance to continue to improve the current Colorado judicial selection system that has worked so well for over four decades, as well as continue to work to educate the public on the importance of judicial independence to ensure a secure democracy.
Among those attending the CJI event were Colorado Supreme Court Justice Michael Bender, 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals Judge Carlos Lucero, US Bankruptcy Court Judge Bruce Campbell, Colorado Court of Appeals Judges Steven Bernard, Russell Carparelli, Richard Gabriel, and Diana Terry, Colorado State Attorney General John Suthers, and numerous other judges, magistrates, court staff and community and business leaders.
The CJI Judicial Excellence Awards were presented by board members Constance Talmage and Ralph Torres to Judge M. Jon Kolomitz of the 16th Judicial District, Judge Robert H. Russell, II of the 18th Judicial District, Judge Alfred C. Harrell of the Denver County Court, and Magistrate Jane Westbrook of the 21st Judicial District, Mesa County. These Excellence Award winners have been nominated by their peers and have exhibited unique dedication to the effective and efficient administration of justice and a deep devotion to both their profession and their communities. They have generated the respect of their colleagues and the citizens who appear before them.
C JI Board Chair, Robert N. Miller of Perkins Coie LLP, and CJI Vice Chair, Sheila Gutterman of Gutterman Griffiths PC, outlined the accomplishments of CJI during the past year. CJI recently announced a new partnership with the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada that will provide at least $125,000 in scholarship funds for Colorado judges over the next three years. The Our Courts public education program, a joint activity of the Colorado Bar Association and CJI in partnership with eleven other statewide organizations, has made presentations about the state and federal courts to over 4,400 Colorado citizens in 140 groups in one year and is expanding throughout the state. The CJI Public Policy Committee worked with Sen. Brandon Shaffer, Rep. Terrance Carroll and others to secure the reauthorization of the Colorado Judicial Performance Evaluation program. The new statute includes interim evaluations for judges and an independent evaluation office. The CJI Family Law Committee is working on the second of three reports about the experiences of children, respondent parents, and foster parents in Colorado family courts. The first report, Youth Voices, is available on the CJI website. CJI Chair Miller stated that “the past year has been one of the most productive in CJI’s 29-year history.” Funds raised at the Judicial Excellence for Colorado Dinner benefit the Judicial Education Fund and CJI programs.
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If you are interested in additional information or photos from the 2008 Judicial Excellence Dinner, please contact CJI via email or at 303-766-7501.
For information on previous Judicial Excellence Dinners, please use the below links. Click this link for more information on Previous Judicial Excellence Award Honorees.
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